There’s no denying the fact that Jocko Willink – former member of SEAL Team 3, as well as a famous author & podcaster – is one of the individuals which are most responsible for the popularization of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. However, even though he’s brought awareness of BJJ into many lives, not many people know what the Gentle Art meant (and means) to Jocko.
He revealed the importance of Jiu-Jitsu in his life on a Lex Fridman Podcast episode:
Jiu-Jitsu, for me, was the connective tissue that started to join my mind with all the different aspects of my life. And so, for me Jiu-Jitsu was really important, and I don’t think I would be doing anything I’m doing right now if it wasn’t for Jiu-Jitsu.
So, there were various parts of my life that were in existence, but I didn’t know how they were connected until I started training Jiu-Jitsu.
The primary things are: interacting with other human beings, combat tactics and strategy, Jiu-Jitsu… All those things are connected and they all follow the same guiding principles. And I wouldn’t have recognized those principles if I didn’t do Jiu-Jitsu.
Jocko emphasized the humility perspective that BJJ brings:
When you think that you know what you’re doing, that you have certain skills… And you realize that there’s always somebody better than you. You realize: “Hey, maybe I don’t have the right answers all the time.”
And you bring that into the leadership perspective; you walk to your platoon and you realize that maybe you don’t have all the answers all the time and that maybe you should listen to what other people have to say.
You bring that to a combat situation… If you sit there and you think that you’re smarter than the enemy – you’re gonna be complacent and you’re going to make mistakes.
For Jocko, what you do in Jiu-Jitsu is what you do in life:
Jiu-Jitsu had an incredible life impact on me.
Look – the physical part? Yes, absolutely. Does it keep you humble, when you know that there is a 140lbs individual when you’re a 220lbs, 25-year-old guy? And there’s a 135 or a 140lbs, 46-year-old guy that can make you tap out?
That’s humbling. And what do you do with that? Do you run away from it or pursue it?
It’s the same thing with life. It’s the same thing with everything. So, Jiu-Jitsu is not just a powerful physical aspect, but it’s a way of thinking.